Hip Hop Tuesday brings together kids, police officers in Austin community
CHICAGO (CBS) -- For some kids on Chicago's West Side, every Tuesday means a date with Chicago Police for a tutoring program.
As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, the Hip Hop Tuesday program creates community by bringing together cops and kids.
A lot goes on at the Austin (15th) District police station, 5701 W. Madison St. But once a week, Officer Will Martinez helps transform a section of the police station into a kid zone.
"We're here every Tuesday for the last four and half years," Martinez said.
"Officer Will - he's really fun. He's cool," said Aidan Sturgent.
Youngsters like Aidan rush right in.
"He hopped in the car today – he was like, 'Just take me the police station,'" said Aidan's mom, Antinisha Sturgent.
It was a complete about-face from a year ago. Aidan's mother recalls why she first brought her 11-year-old son to the West Side station.
"My son was giving me problems," she said, adding that she brought him top the station, "to be talked to - and they explained to me they have a program for kids."
That program is Hip Hop Tuesday.
"Hip Hop Tuesday is another way to bring the children in and let them see us than more than just figures of authority," said Austin District Cmdr. Andre Parham.
Homework always comes first at the mentor tutoring program inside the police station.
"After their homework is checked and thoroughly completed, then they have access to the video games; the air hockey," said Officer Martinez.
And that is where the relationships are built.
"I see them as a police officer and a friend, actually," said Aidan.
"Yes, it's wonderful," added his mom. "I'm glad they're changing the narrative."
For just four hours every week, these officers are changing the narrative of how children see cops and their community.
"I interacted with a lot of police officers - and they made a positive impact on my life," Aidan said.
The word is out about what's happening at Hip Hop Tuesday – so much that there is a waiting to join – and those outside of Austin now know what's happening.
"Okay, this is great start - but let's make it bigger," said Andrea Davenport of Meridian Health. "Let's get newer systems and more systems so the kids can enjoy and play."
Meridian Health recently donated $10,000 to help the program expand.
"You can feel the passion and commitment they have to the children in this community," said Meridian Health President Sherry Hursa. "I think that's what wowed me the most."
While some wills ay officers are just playing video games with children, Officer Martinez points out the kids are meeting others in Austin that they tend to avoid.
"They're working together. They don't care what block they cross. They don't care what block they're from. It's more about they're just here to enjoy themselves - and it's a safe place."
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